Running a skateboarding program with no support from the government is difficult enough in the UK, so to be able to do something similar in a part of the world that is still on the front line of a major armed conflict is pretty incredible. However that is exactly what one 34 year old man from Melbourne, Australia is doing in Afghanistan.
Oliver Percovich is taking Action sports onto the front line. Afghan youth have learned to recover almost instantly from routine violence. Percovich is determined to inject some normalcy into their lives. His not-for-profit skate academy, Skateistan, is opening this spring. He sees sport as a way to woo students into after-school activities like English and computer classes, which are otherwise reserved for the elite.
Percovich has raised the money needed to build an 8,600-square-foot bubble to house the Skateistan complex, and the Kabul Parks Authority has tentatively donated land. He is still waiting for official permission to begin the project. And since a spate of kidnappings and the car bombing in late November, he has reduced his daily sessions at his current location to once or twice a week.
Despite the obvious military and economic problems in the country that face the organisation, deep social rifts along religious and gender and class lines divide the population and present even more problems for Skateistan. Here at ASIS we wish them the best of luck!